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Stark Law

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Submitted By brianjolly24
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What is Stark Law?
According to, “Stark law, actually three separate provisions, governs physician self- referral for Medicare and Medicaid patients. The law is named for United States Congressman Pete Stark who sponsored the initial bill.” Dr. S and Dr. V were accused of violating the law after they sub leased a nuclear imaging camera from the local hospital so that they would not have to refer patients, and could perform the examinations on site. Qui tam action was brought by four other physicians who believe that the sublease violated the Stark Acts. This essay will further explore Stark Law, and decide whether or not Dr. S and Dr. V are guilty of committing a crime.

Dr. S and Dr. V Found Guilty?
“Faced with increasing evidence that health care practitioners were referring patients to other businesses owned or co-owned by the referring physician or a close family member, Representative Fortney Stark introduced a bill that would make these "self-referrals" illegal,” (Bustillos, D). To prevent physicians from creating a system in which they exploit patients for their own personal financial gain, Stark Law was put into effect. This law is very important because even though the medical community is a business, the quality care of patients should always be the top priority. Anytime large quantities of money can be accumulated it creates a corrupt system in which the financial aspect of the business is the main focus rather than the quality care of patients. In Dr. S and Dr. V’s circumstance however, it is not necessarily clear whether or not a crime was committed. They were only leasing the nuclear camera and did not have ownership or stake in the hospital, but that lease can be seen as a method of self referral since they were indeed technically business partners with the hospital they were leasing equipment from. Without further exploration into the case, one could conclude that the two physicians are guilty of the crime due to their business relationship with the hospital they shared patients with however, Stark Law is a lot more specific than just that scenario.

Were Dr.S and Dr. V Found Innocent?
The huge deciding factor that would make these two physicians obviously guilty to me is an arrangement in which the physicians would be obligated to refer patients to the hospital, which is non-existent in the information presented. It is fair to assume that the physicians had the freedom to refer their patients to whomever. Also, one of the main points of Stark Law is that physicians make arrangements with government entities, such as Medicare and Medicaid. From the information presented it is not clear whether or not the physicians Dr. S and Dr. V made prior arrangements with these government entities. Due to these circumstances, I feel as though the biggest thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the motive behind Dr. S and Dr. V’s business decision. If they were simply trying to make the process a lot simpler for their patients to undergo nuclear camera examination procedures, I do not think that is a crime. However, if their motive was to make more money this definitely raises concern. The only way to determine that would be to open the accounting books to understand the profit gains or loss from the two physician’s business partnership with the local hospital.

In conclusion, due to the lack of necessary evidence to determine the two physicians guilty, Dr. S and Dr. V are indeed innocent of any crime to my understanding. Their business decision was likely based on patient benefits rather than their own financial gains. The hospital also allowed their physicians to utilize the nuclear camera as well, which proves the two physicians did not have ownership over the camera or a structured compensation arrangement.


1. Bustillos, D. (2013). Health care ethics and medical law. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2015.

2. STARK LAW - Information on penalties, legal practices, latest news and advice. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2015.

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